Richard Hacken,

          Into the Sunset: Anthology of Nineteenth-Century Austrian Prose

          Riverside, CA: Ariadne Press, 1999.


            Price: $44.50


            It is only slight exaggeration to say that prose fiction in the imperial realms of Austria and Austria-Hungary

began the nineteenth century as romantic flights of fancy and left that century drenched in the depressing trivia of reality.  A comparative reading of the first and the last of these novellas and short stories will exemplify this: the first work, written by Caroline von Pichler in 1823, features an improbable battle between the invisible powers of witches and archbishops while the battles of the last novella, put to paper by Ferdinand von Saar in 1882, rage within the real and visible world, between a dog and a forest ranger, between alcohol and unemployment, between emotional depression and floodwaters.  There are, between these two poles, a number of lively and exciting literary journeys past mountain peaks and urban slums, past ghettos, grocery stores, palaces and pilgrimage chapels, with each locale revealing itself to be a unique housing for the human spirit. 


            The Biedermeier era is well represented here, with works that include the two best-known Austrian writers of that age, Adalbert Stifter and Franz Grillparzer, but that extend to relative unknowns as well, Ernst von Feuchtersleben and Betty Paoli.  The age of Realism that followed the demoralizing revolutions of 1848 is likewise central to this anthology, from the humor of Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach and the informed resignation outlined by Karl Emil Franzos to the sexual mores of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch and the mystery-horror genre introduced by Friedrich Halm.  These are supplemented by the ghetto wisdom of Leopold Kompert, by the mock-naive urban narration of Ada Christen, and by thematically comparable but stylistically divergent fictional views of clerical life in the Alps by Ludwig Anzengruber and Peter Rosegger.


            While some of the works here are available for the first time in English, all of them have been newly reworked and footnoted to carry meaning to a readership on the cusp of a new millennium.  The themes found here are old and new, full of bright hope and laden with cynical despair. Yet together they can be regarded, in a figurative sense, as a literary montage of departure into the sunset of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.



            Prose works from the following nineteenth-century Austrian authors proceed in chronological order

            through the revelatory literary epochs of Romanticism, Biedermeier, Realism and beyond,

            into the twilight of the Habsburg Empire:



        Caroline von Pichler                    The Love of Charlemagne’s Youth,

                                                                 [Carl’s des Großen Jugendliebe, 1823]


        Ernst von Feuchtersleben             An Alpine Journey,

                                                                 [Eine Gebirgsreise, 1841]    


        Adalbert Stifter                            Brigitta,

                                                                 [Brigitta, 1843]


        Betty Paoli                                   Confessions,

                                                                 [Bekenntnisse, 1844]


        Franz Grillparzer                          The Poor Fiddler,

                                                                 [Der arme Spielmann, 1847]


        Friedrich Halm                             Marzipan-Lisa,

                                                                 [Marzipan-Lise, 1854]         


        Leopold Kompert                         Isaac’s Glasses,

                                                                 [Eisiks Brille, 1860]


        Leopold von Sacher-Masoch       Don Juan of Kolomyya,

                                                                 [Don Juan von Kolomea, 1866]


        Karl Emil Franzos                        The Higher Law,

                                                                 [Nach dem höheren Gesetz, 1873]


        Ada Christen                                Cathy’s Feather Hat,

                                                                 [Käthes Federhut, 1876]


        Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach      The Gemperlein Barons,

                                                                 [Die Freiherren von Gemperlein, 1879]


        Ludwig Anzengruber                   The Love Child,

                                                                 [Das Sündkind, 1879]


        Peter Rosegger                             Mary in Misery,

                                                                 [Maria im Elend, 1881]


        Ferdinand von Saar                     Tambi,

                                                                 [Tambi, 1882]



            Dr. Richard D. Hacken, the translator and literary commentator of these fourteen works of fiction, received his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in German from the University of California at Davis where he studied with Professor Clifford A. Bernd.  As the European Studies Bibliographer at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, he administers Study Abroad libraries in London and Vienna; he has co-directed a Study Abroad program in Baden, near Vienna. Selected poetry of Clemens Brentano, Theodor Storm and Klaus Groth are among his earlier translations. His literary investigations have ranged from Martin Opitz to socioeconomic references in Gottfried Keller’s Seldwyla cycle. His formats have evolved from books and articles to the Internet with Deutsche Dichterhandschriften des Poetischen Realismus, an online index to literary papers of the nineteenth century, and EuroDocs, a portal for digitized primary historical documents.